Wednesday, 26 August 2015

“Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that contagious glory”


Contributors:  Dan, Peter, Tom One

Blimey, it's getting a bit crowded upstairs these days isn't it?
What with having to elbow my way through a crowd and everything I completely lost track of what was going on last night. Up in the far corner we enjoyed Dark Moon, a game so good we played it twice, Fake Artist, a game so good we played it twice, Escape, a game so good we played it thrice, and Masquerade, a game so good we played it... well we only played that once.

Also seen doing the rounds:
Troyes (or twoiyais, or whatever)
Too Many Cindafellas
One Night Waste of Time
Castles of Ludmadstein
James repeatedly asking everyone if they want to play Firenze
Probably some other games, there must have been with four or five tables on the go!


Firenze was played. My first time and what a great game it is. So many opportunities for screwing your opponent, a rather unusual attribute for a Euro. And the card pricing system is oh so clever. James, playing like a Gentlemen amongst 3 new players, avoided the temptation to play the nasty cards on us unsuspecting wide-eyed novices. A great game indeed.
Mascarade earlier in the evening was an unusually long game. I have not played with as few as six before and it is a slightly less random experience - even my limited memory can keep a vague idea of what is where. Strangely, as there is more memorable info, the game seems to lasts longer. This time, by the end, we had almost all the six players around 9-11 coins so it was anyone's game to the end. Tom stole it with a sneaky Queen if my memory serves me correctly.


As Pete said, we did manage a six-fer take on Mascarade with relatively old hands David, Pete, Philippe and me plus Karolina and newbie Anne.
I was allowed to sit on a Queen for an entire round without anyone swapping it out of my hand. Not good business when I was holding 11 coins! I think that quite a few of us have the game down now so would be interesting to throw in a few of the more exciting characters. For example, the 8 layer game we managed a couple of weeks ago was elevated somewhat by the introduction of the Fool and the Peasants. Something to think about.

Dark Moon was held with 7(seven!) players: me, Dan, Tonio (a wonderful sight to behold), Tom II, James III, Alan and Raj. A triumph it was although not for the uninfected with Tonio revealing himself at the perfect opportunity having been issued orders by James III (all his fault - nothing to do with anyone else at the table *cough*). Tonio chose to put pressure on the mining outposts already beleaguered shields. Unfortunately, after reading through his lovely new powers, he then decided to further test the mettle of our commander, Dan. At which point, Dan promptly failed his roll adding a further token to the shield count which bled over to the Outpost.
At this point, James had the sparkling idea of the group trying a malfunction task that would finish off the outpost if we failed. We of course failed with both Tonio and Dan adding as many negative dice as humanly possible to the count. At which point, Raj (and not the highly suspicious Alan), revealed himself to be the Third Zombie/Alien/Whatever. Still waters etc. etc.

After this, the boys (except for Alan who bemoaned his not getting "a turn") decided to give the game another go, especially considering the one hour run time. At which point, Mr Agapow was duly collared to get us back up to our full complement. This time, the final event was Enter Self-Destruct Codes which requires that the commander cannot be infected or fatigued if that event is completed otherwise the infected win. This event is brilliant as it really encourages a lot of table talk and focus on who is the commander, voting for quarantines and managing the life support systems.

Of course, James III pulled the task which required him to ask for another player's status card. He chose the commander, Tom II, and declared Tom to be infected. Both were promptly thrown in quarantine but otherwise things were moving along relatively with all tracks having zero to one token. Commander Paul was forced to pass command upon completion of the third event and this went to Raj. However, soon afterwards, Paul played a task that would effect the life support if failed. Tom II (in quarantine) was the last to add dice with the total 2 above what was needed. He then promptly played -3 dice to tank the mission - the classic soft reveal.
The next mission failed again with Paul again tanking the task with a flourish. This meant that two infected were revealed but who was the third man this time? In the meantime, the life supports had been pushed up to four tokens - leaving a large number of the crew fatigued. This was bad news both in terms of the final event and passing tasks (malfunctions being the only cards left in the task desk for the final push). It was now my turn and I had to do my best to repair the life support. I rolled by three dice: +4, +3 and -1. I promptly submitted the -1 with a shrug. Now for the task draw, good news: a ??? malfunction with 2 consequences. I promptly selected the life supports (failure would make us hit the magic number of 6 and win the game for the infected). The four uninfected players howled with rage - Tonio pointing at me, Tom II and Paul with a "I knew it was you!"

Unfortunately, for the uninfected, both Paul and I were not fatigued (I was Daniel, the android whose special ability is to avoid fatigue) whereas they all were. Fatigue means that they can only submit one dice to any task. I started thing off with a cool -5 and the task didn't get out of the negatives. Victory for the infected for the second time on the bounce!
After this: Fake Artist (good fun: Tom II showing his uncanny ability to turn any drawing of a penis into a top hat wearing cat) and Escape (lovely stuff - much better than I remembered perhaps because everyone at the table knew what they were doing having all played before).
The best night at the club for me since the magic 11 games in an evening a couple of months ago with Cinderfellas and Pictomania. Cheers boys.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

From Russia with confusion


Contributors:  Tom One, Dan, David

We kicked off the evening with a six player version of Mascarade. Mike, David and I had played before and the others picked it up quickly so it ran along at a nice pace. Gareth won out at the end due to a solid 50/50 call on whether he was the King or Bishop. Once you know what you're in for and let yourself go in terms of not being able to properly track who you are (I was genuinely surprised at one point when David was outed as the Witch), there's a lot to like here. The fact that it's so flexible on player count makes it a great opener too.
After the planned game of Viceroy was aborted as it would have left Dan and Andy out to dry, Fauna was chosen as it would accommodate five. The large game of Codenames finished up soon after however and Gareth abandoned ship to play Shadowrift, "a co-operative Dominion". **shudder** This left me, Dan, Andy and John to restart Fauna as a foursome with the decision made that finding out the weights of chimpanzees was no fun - we wanted the harder stuff. Bring on the Pumpkin Toadlet and the Aardwolf! This game was a total blast. Lots of jokes about measuring with hands, aardwolfs camouflaging themselves as zebras, gigantic hog-nosed bats, Liam Neeson and the prevalence of all species in Indochina. I won in the end thanks to a mega round based on my knowledge of the Mountain Tapir's residency in the Andes with Dan (a far more worthy winner) behind me by one point.

Next up was Viceroy, a game that I was excited to try out. Holy moses, this is a lot more complicated in reality than it seemed on paper. Four seems like too many as if you don't engage in multi-player solitaire, you have to spend a lot of time keeping track of what others are doing and trying to prevent them from that strategy, e.g. stopping Dan from acquiring a ludicrous amount of scrolls, straight victory points, swords, and pretty much everything else. He won, of course. Looks like ideal for two but, jesus christ, I would fear explaining it. I think that I'll stick with Splendor for now which does something similar but in a far more streamlined fashion. Or if I want card combo goodness, Elysium or Innovation.
Nefarious was next with Andy departing to be replaced by Sarah and Raj. Sorry, John, but this was just shit. The key part of the game is the twists which changes how the game will work out from play to play. However, the first play was so tortuous that I just couldn't stomach another go at it. Maybe we were just unlucky with the twist cards causing too much accounting but I doubt it.

No Thanks next (after Sarah had departed). Good fun - enhanced by Dan wickedly putting all of the cards in their correct order. He blamed his kids but we all saw through his ruse.
To finish up, Codenames as four player with Raj and me on one team and John B and Dan on the other. Team Awesome won both rounds due to Raj being on he same wavelength as me. Raj seems like such a nice normal bloke doesn't he? How on earth could he hide his true nature so well?
Despite playing a couple of stinkers (sorry John), and Dan being a grumpy pants (which he admitted!), it was a fun evening all told. Looking forward to my next pub quiz - have that question about the tail length of a Taking in the bag.


I wouldn't call Viceroy a stinker by the low bar of a Kickstarter game poorly translated from Russian into English. But, yes, it was a pretty poor game overall. Which is a shame as I thought, and still do, that the whole pyramid tableau thing was quite nifty.

Your comments on multiplayer solitaire are spot on I think, as that's pretty much how I played - just focussing on which of the cards I liked the most (firstly by the corner colours then on what kind of bonus I would get from sticking it in the matching place on the pyramid). It seemed to work alright with some crazy ass score at the end, there wasn't really any coherent strategy beyond trying to get tokens on the cards as that seemed like a good idea. Case in point, if I had paid closer attention to what I was doing I would have placed that 'law' card that doubled card tokens later in the game in a place that would have then added an extra thirty odd points to the score I got for my scrolls. Blimey.
I'm not saying that this is the one clear viable strategy or anything, but I really didn't give a fig about what anyone else was doing and I think my score would have suffered quite a bit if I had.

Nefarious was just terrible, sorry. Collect money tokens to convert into VPs, rinse and repeat. Can't afford the VP cards you drew? Tough, it's just going to take you an additional couple of rounds to be the winner and someone else might now get there before you. That was it really. I think there was a touch of hyperbole in describing it as fast and fun as it wasn't really either. Another Kickstarter game too I note.

Thank god I brought No Thanks along so we could play a properly finished and fully working game 


I really enjoyed Mascarade the two times I've played it. It's a great starter and really shines with more people as you lose track of who everyone is that much faster. Can't say I'm any good at it though.

After that was Codenames, first time as a caller and really felt the pressure. It's hard to come up with a clue for Queen, Copper and Bill when your team needs to guess the last three on their turn to stand a chance to win. Thankfully with a bit of luck we did. Really need people to be on the same wavelength or it can go badly wrong.

After that was my first game of Lifeboats, I decided to pick on Raj just because it was easy, unfortunately after all his men drowned he wanted revenge from beyond the grave which made getting any of my men ashore that much harder. It ended with Sarah winning, Mike second and then James and I tied for 3rd. I've now learnt that if you shaft someone it's best to do it towards the end so they don't have time to react.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Who needs salad days when you can have Ice Cream instead?

It's about time we caught up with the summer events at IBG - with attendance numbers bigger than ever we seem to have enjoyed the opposite of the traditional quiet sunny days!

A different format for the next few week's blogs as we allow individual IBGers to have their say.

Contributors:  Paul A & David

With an ever-increasing number of players, we started off with Mascarade, which played as it always did - you rapidly lose track of which role is where, who is doing what and still somehow the game creeps towards an end. A good start to the night.
We then shifted into a game of Mercante, a mid-weight sort of trading game. I fear my energy levels were dropping as the result of some long work days, so my comprehension may not have been at its best - apologies to my fellow players. But anyway, it's a relatively simple same but with a lot of options within and moving parts, so valuing goods is very difficult. Also, while money is relatively easy to come by, victory points are much harder. This makes for a tough game, which is actually something I like. Want to revisit this one soon.


As Paul says above, Mercante is a rather dry and light trading/economic game. Players take it in turn to auction off goods from ships that arrive in the harbour then proceed to stockpile these goods in their warehouses and then sell them to the open market. The more stuff is sold the less it's worth. Add in random events and faction cards to affect the rise and fall of the market. Paul won with 10 Victory Points by doing enough trading to buy victory points at the critical time as well as win them at the auction. Philippe came second with 9 points as the king of the pigs and I came last with 5. (I tried to concentrate on the luxuries market and overpaid for almost everything that seriously dented my profits)
After that we waited for James II, Alex and Gareth to finish their game of Cuba which Alex won just ahead of James who was only one victory point ahead of Gareth. I didn't see enough of it to say which strategy each person used although Gareth almost did enough at the end by brining in the 3 pesos for 1 victory point law but it was too little too late to catch Alex.

When they finished we started a game of 7 Wonders, with myself, Alex, James II, Gareth and Philippe's first ever game of it. It was a fairly close affair with James going down the civic structures route, Philippe going military and myself big on Science. Whereas Gareth and Alex went for something in between. When it came to final scoring my science, which was across x 3 and down x 3 was enough to beat off the competition from James II. Final scoring was myself on 59, James II on 55, Gareth on 49, Philippe on 43 and Alex on 42. (being the Hanging Gardens of Babylon helped my cause as well as no one else challenging me on science)